Strict Discipline Does Not Harm Children - As Long As They Feel Loved

14/08/2014 16:49 | Updated 22 May 2015
Harsh parenting does not harm children study reveals

A new study has found that strict parenting doesn't harm children - as long as they feel loved.

The research, which was published in the journal Parenting: Science and Practice, revealed that a telling off or a smack can be moderated by the child's feelings of being loved.

Scientists studied a group of Mexican-American teenagers for the survey, and found having a loving mum, or the 'perception of maternal warmth' stopped children from exhibiting anti-social behaviour as a result of being punished themselves.

The researchers said that as long as children thought their punishment was coming from a 'good place' it would not have long term negative effects.

Dr Miguelina German, of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York said that the 'attachment theory' between a parent and child means that responsive parenting is the critical factor in producing happy, secure children.

This, she explained was to a child, the underlying belief that their parents love them, which then protected them against feelings of rejection, even when being harshly disciplined.

Dr German also outlined why she thought the use of harsh parental discipline did not automatically result in anti-social behaviour in the child:

"The relationship between the two is conditional and subject to other factors," she said. "Where harsh disciplinary practices are a cultural norm, there are always other influences at play that can lessen their potential harm on the young child."

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